Rev up those engines, the Coast Car Co-op is off and running.
Last Saturday, March 1, at the site of the new Gibsons Public Market, Coast Car Sharing Co-op executive director Johan Stroman and his team held an opening event launch and annual general meeting.
"This has been quite a whirlwind year for us to get to where we are right now, and we have many people to thank and be appreciative of," Stroman said. "This initiative is driven by our members and many community partners."
The not-for-profit organization has seen widespread support throughout the Sunshine Coast.
The Car Co-op launched on Saturday with 50 founding members, then four more joined on Saturday during the AGM, bringing the total to 54. There are two vehicles for use - a 2013 Toyota Prius C (hybrid car) and a new Dodge Grand Caravan (family van) - with a third vehicle to be added May 1.
In addition, through a roaming agreement with Vancouver-based Modo, members will also have access to more than 300 vehicles in the Lower Mainland, including a new multi-passenger vehicle that will be placed in Horseshoe Bay.
Karen New, information systems director for Modo, was on hand at the launch with several members of her team.
"Over the years that I have been with Modo, we have had regular requests from folks asking when we would expand to the Sunshine Coast," New said. "We really didn't have an answer, but now we have on-the-ground people here on the Sunshine Coast that can make this venture a success. We are just thrilled to be working with Johan and his team. It's incredibly exciting to watch this take off and grow."
Stroman said the model of a car sharing program fits in perfectly with the culture of the Sunshine Coast.
"This is a car share for people who might be a one-car family and need a second vehicle every once and a while," he said. "It's a flexible and affordable option for people on the Sunshine Coast. The car co-op, we hope, will provide members with a financially-viable model where you can use a car when you want to use it, but you don't have to deal with the maintenance, the upkeep or the insurance. You just drive it when you need it and bring it back to where you picked it up."
Stroman offered thanks to family and friends, community supporters and business leaders including Community Futures, Sunshine Coast Credit Union, the Town of Gibsons and the Ignite program.
"My wife was the one who urged me to put in an application," Stroman recalled. "I really wondered whether we could do this here. But once I was accepted into the Ignite program, I started learning more about car sharing and the social responsibilities of the program. Over time it has blossomed because all of the community and our partners have made this happen. This is a community effort."
Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe welcomed the co-op to Gibsons and thanked Stroman for choosing the Town to launch the initiative.
"I'm well aware of the effort and perseverance that has gone into the effort here today, and I know it has been motivated by a desire to continue to make our community a liveable and sustainable community," Rowe said. "The car co-op not only reduces the number of vehicles on the road, it makes vehicles accessible to people in our community who might not otherwise have access to a vehicle. The cooperation of Modo really enhances the possibilities of success for this venture. It's now up to us to utilize this service and make it a success."
For more information and details on how to become a member, visit the Coast Car Co-op website at www.coastcarco-op.ca or call 778-374-3092.
© Coast Reporter